Quotation Findler, Florian, Schönherr, Norma, Lozano, Rodrigo, Reider, Daniela, Martinuzzi, Robert-Andre. 2018. The impacts of higher education institutions on sustainable development: A review and conceptualization. International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education. 20 (1), 23-38.




This paper aims to conceptualize impacts of higher education institutions (HEIs) on sustainable development (SD), complementing previous literature reviews by broadening the perspective from what HEIs do in pursuit of SD to how these activities impact society, the environment and the economy. The paper provides a systematic literature review of peer-reviewed journal articles published between 2005 and 2017. Inductive content analysis was applied to identify major themes and impact areas addressed in the literature to develop a conceptual framework detailing the relationship between HEIs’ activities and their impacts on SD. The paper identifies six impact areas where direct and indirect impacts of HEIs on SD may occur. The findings indicate a strong focus on case studies dealing with specific projects and a lack of studies analyzing impacts from a more holistic perspective.This systematic literature review enables decision-makers in HEIs, researchers and educators to better understand how their activities may affect society, the environment and the economy, and it provides a solid foundation to tackle these impacts.The review highlights that HEIs have an inherent responsibility to make societies more sustainable. HEIs must embed SD into their systems while considering their impacts on society. This paper provides a holistic conceptualization of HEIs’ impacts on SD. The conceptual framework can be useful for future research that attempts to analyze HEIs’ impacts on SD from a holistic perspective.


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Publication's profile

Status of publication Published
Affiliation WU
Type of publication Journal article
Journal International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education
Citation Index SSCI
Language English
Title The impacts of higher education institutions on sustainable development: A review and conceptualization
Volume 20
Number 1
Year 2018
Page from 23
Page to 38
Reviewed? Y
DOI https://doi.org/10.1108/IJSHE-07-2017-0114
Open Access Y
Open Access Link https://www.emeraldinsight.com/doi/full/10.1108/IJSHE-07-2017-0114


Findler, Florian (Details)
Schönherr, Norma (Former researcher)
Reider, Daniela (Former researcher)
Martinuzzi, Robert-Andre (Details)
Lozano, Rodrigo (University of Gävle, Sweden)
Institute for Managing Sustainability IN (Details)
Research areas (ÖSTAT Classification 'Statistik Austria')
2959 Sustainable development, sustainable economics (Details)
5912 Social sciences (interdisciplinary) (Details)
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